Contested Probate, Inheritance and Succession Disputes
Losing a loved one is hard enough, without having issues caused by Contested Probate, Inheritance, and Succession Disputes. Sadly, some people are unhappy with either the assets that they have been left, or the fact that they have received nothing at all. It is important to understand your legal status and how you can contest or defend a Will before or after probate. We are expert Inheritance Dispute Solicitors and can help all aspects of this difficult time.
We can help you with problems such as:
- Defending a claim against an estate where you are the Executor or the Administrator
- Contesting a Will – if there are issues with the Will itself, determining whether the deceased had capacity to make the Will along with the knowledge and approval of executing the Will itself. There could also be concerns that the Will is a forgery or that someone placed undue influence upon the deceased to write the Will in a specific way disinheriting or including a particular beneficiary to the Will
- Inheritance Act Claims – if you have not received as much as expected or nothing at all. The Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 provides for specific types of beneficiaries that are able to contest a Will if they have not been properly provided for. These might include, a spouse, children, or people who were dependant on the deceased. These types of claims must be brought within six months from the date of the Grant of Probate or the Letters of Administration
- Trust Disputes – including the removal of a Trustee. Trust disputes may include the Trustee not acting in accordance with their duties placed upon them as a Trustee. This may include using the Trust funds inappropriately or not following the terms of the Trust
- Professional Negligence – happens when a solicitor/Will writer has failed to give the correct advice, causing a loss to the estate or a beneficiary. There are particular rules to follow when it comes to drafting a Will that solicitors and Will writers should follow to ensure that the wishes of the Testator are followed correctly
- Succession Disputes – if it is disputed who will continue running a business or estate
Large or complex estates can cause more disputes or challenges, therefore it’s imperative to have expert legal advice to help resolve the issues efficiently and amicably. We understand that this may be a difficult time and we will work sensitively with all parties, as necessary.
Can anyone contest a Will?
You can contest a Will if you feel you have not been properly provided for or you have been disinherited from the Will entirely. This includes situations such as:
- You have been left out of the Will
- You question the validity of the Will
- You are named in the Will but you believe you have not been properly provided for
- The deceased promised you something but failed to leave it in the Will and you have relied on the promise and acted to your detriment
- You were financially dependant on the expected inheritance from the deceased’s Will and you have not received enough to properly maintain you
- You are worried that a third party has placed an undue pressure or influence on the deceased to make the Will in a certain way
How would I contest a Will?
Every Will dispute is different, but they follow the same process:
- Investigation – We will look at the Will and any other related documents, including a copy of the Will file which would include relevant file notes and draft Wills, as well as any previous Wills of the deceased. Any relevant medical information, social care records or any police investigations
- Mediation – A detailed Letter of Claim along with the supporting documentation should be disclosed to the Personal Representatives dealing with the Administration of the estate. During which we would suggest engaging in methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Then it goes to mediation. The Courts have made it very clear that with any type of dispute, mediation should be considered. If you refuse to mediate, this could act against you if the matter was to progress to Court. Most Inheritance Disputes can be resolved through mediation, thereby avoiding court which can be time consuming and expensive
- Court – This is rare, but unfortunately some disputes can’t be resolved through mediation and have to be decided by a court. If this does happen, we have the expertise to support you and secure the best outcome possible
Defending a claim against an estate
The role of an Executor or Administrator is to act entirely in the best interests of the deceased’s estate. Sometimes, some Executors or Administrators find it difficult to act impartially when a person contests a Will. It is often advised that if this happens, you seek expert legal help to ensure that the claim is fully investigated in accordance with your duties as the Personal Representative of the estate. If claims are not dealt with correctly and the matter proceeds to Court, this could leave the Personal Representative personally exposed to a costs order against them. We are more than happy to discuss this in order to prevent the potential risks involved. The costs of defending such a claim against the estate are usually borne by the estate itself.
How much does it cost to contest a Will?
The cost of a Will or probate dispute depends entirely on the time needed, complexity of the case and whether it goes to court. If the parties can come to an agreement, the dispute can be resolved at any time and the costs can be shared. However, if the case goes to court, then the court will decide how the costs are paid.
There are various ways to cover the cost of a claim, which we would be more than happy to discuss with you, including legal expenses insurance, a conditional fee agreement (i.e. no win no fee), monthly billing, payment on completion or third-party funding.